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What’s Causing The Increase In Autism Prevalence? A Critical Analysis

Two recent studies concerning the prevalence of autism in the US have been getting a lot of attention, because they indicate that autism prevalence may be higher than previously estimated. This, of course, fuels the debate over whether or not there are environmental triggers of autism.

One study was conducted by the CDC but has yet to be published. The results were announced ahead of publication by the US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to the autism community. She reports that the new prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is now estimated at 1% or 100 in 10,000 children. This is an increase over the last few years. In 2002 the prevalence was estimated to be 66 per 10,000.

The second study was published in the journal Pediatrics and is a phone survey of 78,037 parents. They asked if they had any children who had ever been diagnosed with an ASD. Here are the results: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

Genetic Causes Of Early Pregnancy Loss

Probably one of the most popular series I have written over the past few years is the one on recurrent early pregnancy loss. There is not a week that goes by that I still don’t get inquiries related to that subject, most accompanied by the pain, frustration, sense of loss, and feelings of hopelessness for future fertility. There are several points I always remind readers and patients about whenever I have the opportunity to discuss their concerns: 1) In most cases, the tincture of time alone offers the answer to their prayers; 2) If specific reasons for their losses are found or suspected, these can often be addressed medically and/or surgically; 3) If specific reasons cannot be identified, there are reasonable approaches to ‘empiric therapy’; and, 4) If these approaches fail, the science of assisted reproductive technology (ART) has advanced to the point that it can often overcome most obstacles that stand in the way of fertility.

The other points I always mention in response to the questions of “Why did this happen to me?”, “What did I do wrong to cause this?”, “What can I do to assure that it never happens to me again?, particularly to couples who have had their first or second miscarriage, or a sporadic miscarriage after successful pregnancies, are the following: 1) Miscarriages occur in 15-20% of all conceptions; 2) The MOST COMMON cause of early pregnancy losses are chromosomal abnormalities that occur by chance (except in the case of parental chromosomal rearrangements) and are not under any controllable influences; 3) It is unlikely that anything was “done” to cause the loss, although if there are such potential factors identified, the loss may provide an incentive to modify lifestyle prior to another pregnancy attempt to minimize their risks.

Recently, I received the query below from a woman who has had early pregnancy losses related to documented chromosomal abnormalities. Despite the other problems that have been identified which might contribute to reduced fertility in her case, these probably had no influence on her babies’ chromosomal abnormalities. But, they do give us the opportunity to briefly discuss the well-known observations that certain seemingly “unusual” chromosomal abnormalities (“unusual” in that they rarely or never result in a live born baby) actually contribute to a relatively high percentage of early pregnancy losses. Read more »

This post, Genetic Causes Of Early Pregnancy Loss, was originally published on by Kenneth Trofatter, M.D., Ph.D..

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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